Sunday, April 21, 2013

R.I.P. Ruby

Ruby & Lissa Margetts for National Geographic Magazine 1997
Melissa Margetts & Ruby

In 1996-97 I worked with Lissa and Ruby in Telluride Colorado.
Ruby was a cat she worked with to teach people about Mt Lion safety.
We spent a few days learning about Ruby and it was my privilege to have time to do so.
This was not an ordinary job for me.  It was a large assignment from the Director of NGS; Thomas Kennedy.  I was to tell a story about all cats and little did I know that the images I was about to take would have a twist of fate for either me or Ruby.
I had an editor that pushed both Lissa and me into taking pictures that would render domestication of large cats...encourage normal folks to acquire what seemed to be a cute cuddly cat, when in fact it is a large predator that can take a human down in one swipe.
Women in general are less afraid of cats.  I went in to her pen fearless, my assistant a male stood way back.  I have always been open to animals more so than people.
Lissa was there so maybe that was my licence to wander.
In the coarse of a few days we took many images during typical snow stormy weather.
The shot we took of Lissa and Ruby inside was one hanging out like a small domestic cat by the fire.  Not a normal site but an image like this can make a huge statement to the public. 
 Hindsight is everything right?
Again speculation but predictable.
Well I took many photographs that could say to the viewer...hey go domesticate a wild animal.  
Still I  regretted it.
Lissa was promised to have final say!
As I viewed the walls at NGS I asked my editor if she got permission from Lissa to use that shot!  Puzzled she said no!  This was not a comfortable moment for me.  It was the very moment that buried my career with NGS alive.
I was now the bad guy for taking that image.
I contacted the powers that be and Lissa. 
She did not want it to go in the magazine.
It was pulled for I had to honor her and it was not a good moment for the editor or myself.
DON'T take images that can render harm to the subjects.
DON'T get talked into it and DON'T talk them into it either.
Today Lissa recalled that memory and sent this story.
I honored her and the future of cats best I could.
The cost was any future work with that regime at NGS.
Many photographers internally reached out to me and stating how horrible it was that I was scape coated.   It took some time to recover from that project.
I did the right thing end of day and maybe in time I can get back in the door there to do good works.  I hope so.  I could sure use a big break to work on more substantial stories globally.  My eyes are still strong and my heart yearns to make a difference.
Lissa, sorry for your loss, Ruby had a great home. 
Today I am reminded that I was inspired to tattoo Ruby upon my back in the tarot cared of strength.
Life is so precious and I have never looked at wild animals in captivity the same.
I am not a fan of zoos at all.  Humans have a way of putting their essence on everything.
Wild creatures need our concern and support.
Were all connected.
Now Lissa moves on to work with lions in Africa.
As journalist it is important to tell the real story.
It's also important to realize the results that it can inspire good and bad.
Wild animals as house pets is just a bad idea in general.
The what if's are so possible and you can easily be the cause of one getting put to death.
Just say no.
The responsibility is HUGE. 
Like a marriage forever and ever and we know how that story often shadows fate!   
Everyone and everything is connected.
I posted about The Cove and Lissa writes to me.
So small this world and to take you time and do something really worth while can render a better life for all.
Thank you for that experience.
R.I.P. Ruby
(link above a great read)

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